Enlightened Sexism

A must-read: Whip-smart, witty, and scathingly insightful. Susan Douglas has penned a brilliant — and often funny — critique of the myths about equality, ambition, and femininity that are currently being served up as ‘reality’ in our media-crazed culture. ”  Susan Jane Gilman, bestselling author of Kiss My Tiara, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven.

“In this witty skewering of pop culture, Susan Douglas shows how girl-power fantasies – vampire slayers, tomb raiders, lean girls, and mean girls – hold women back by obscuring how far we haven’t come. Douglas manages the difficult trick of bringing disquieting news while remaining funny, erudite, warm, and delightful. She’s our most enjoyable – and smartest – media critic.” Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation and author of Learning to Driveand Reasonable Creatures

“Here is an incisive history of the liberation that doesn’t liberate, the story of how the same-old is peddled as ever-so radical. In Enlightened Sexism, Susan Douglas dissects pop-culture pseudo-feminism with wit, style, and a considerable amount of humor.”
 Thomas Frank, bestselling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew

“Enlightened Sexism is an all-too-important reminder that sexism, sadly, is alive and well – and that it’s being sold to women as feminism. Whether it’s a consumer culture that tells women the Pussycat Dolls and Girls Gone Wild are bastions of feminism, or the media that would have us believe that women have nothing left to fight for – Susan Douglas makes sure her readers know that the battle for equality is far from over.” — Jessica Valenti, author of The Purity Myth


“In a sharp-witted polemic against the media’s stereotyping of females and feminism, University of Michigan communications professor Douglas (Where the Girls Are) parses music, movies, magazines, television dramas, reality TV, and news coverage to demonstrate how the “girl power” of the early ‘90s developed into “enlightened sexism”: “a response, deliberate or not, to the perceived threat of a new gender regime.” Given women’s progress, enlightened sexism assumes, now “it’s okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women.” According to Douglas, this media trend includes stereotypes of black women as lazy and threatening in characters like Big Momma or Omarosa on The Apprentice, and the insidious sexualization of young girls. Douglas supports her analysis with data, such as on women’s continuing inequitable pay and professional opportunities, black women’s struggles for equality, and the negative consequences of the rising use of plastic surgery. And while the media focused on girls bullying other girls, a much bigger problem, says Douglas, is sexual harassment of young girls by boys. Readers may not agree with Douglas’s politics, but her position that women’s interests are being harmed by the media is well argued and well documented.” — Publishers Weekly